Because of the 24/7 nature of the news cycle, stories rarely stay on the front page for very long. The immigration crisis is a perfect example. As the media’s attention has turned to the escalating violence in the Middle East and the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, coverage of the thousands of illegal immigrants crossing the border daily has largely fallen by the wayside.
On radio this morning, Glenn spoke to TheBlaze’s senior Washington correspondent Sara Carter who just wrapped up a trip to Willacy County in Texas where she spoke with local law enforcement, Border Patrol agents, and others about the current conditions at the border.
Carter explained she was initially scheduled to go the border last week as part of a trip with the Department of Homeland Security. After being personally invited by someone from the public information office at DHS, Carter was abruptly uninvited. She explained how the situation unfolded:
“[T]wo weeks ago, I get a call from DHS – from one of the public information officers saying, ‘Hey, Sara, would you still like to go on a ride along with us along the border? We spent a little bit of a week over there last month when the crisis was really escalating.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely. Let us know what we need do.’
They go, ‘Well, you’re more than invited. You can do pretty much whatever you want. Do you want to go on ATVs? Do you want do go on horseback? Do you want to come out with us on boats?’ I said, ‘Whatever you guys you’re willing to provide, we’re willing to do. And I’d like to do all of it, but I got to get approval.’ And they said, ‘Great, no problem.’
We got approval. We’re getting ready to go. They pushed me to this week. And then on Sunday, when I couldn’t reach anybody in Washington, D.C., I get a really short email saying, ‘Hey, Sara, guess what? You’ve been denied. No longer are we going to give you a ride along. Not going to take you anywhere. And you need to call Washington, D.C. and find out who up there denied you because we can’t tell you anything.’
What? You can’t imagine how many phone calls I made. I said, ‘This is my job, guys.’ [So] I never found out why, but I made so many phone calls and I raised such a stink about this because this is a denial of our rights. First of all, you invited us. We didn’t push this on you. And second of all, I have every right to be out there to see what’s going on in our border and report this to our readers and to our listeners.
I really held them to the gun on this one. And I said, ‘I’m going to publish a story that is going to reflect what you have done to me and to my company and to the people who are expecting to receive the information so that they can make decisions.’ And guess what: They immediately approved my request. It was that quick. Nobody would ever tell me who denied me. Nobody would ever tell me why they were going to deny me, and that was it.”
Carter was told she would be able to visit one of the holding facilities as part of her tour with DHS. While it is well documented that cameras have not been allowed into any of these areas, she hoped to be able to write a story about the conditions. At the last minute, that access was denied.
“Nobody is being allowed with a camera. Let me make it clear that DHS said that, on this trip, we were going to be granted access to this facility. And then they denied me access,” she said. “I have a friend who works for another news agency… and they were told… ‘Hey, you can come in too.’ And when they got there, they said, ‘Yeah, keep the camera outside. You can’t talk to anyone. You can’t question any of the children. And you can’t talk to any of our border patrol agents.’”
As Carter explained, the lack of access is “just incredible” because journalists “have every right to question.” All was not lost, however, because she was able to interview s number of people crossing the Rio Grande River.
“We were able to intercept a family – a group of seven – when we were out on the border, before Border Patrol arrived. I mean this family was coming across the Rio Grande… We were able to get a lot of great stories,” Carter explained. “And when border patrol got there, the border patrol agent was so nervous. He said, ‘Management just called me and told me to tell you to stop talking to them. You can’t talk to the illegal immigrants.’”
It should be noted Carter was on private property when this request came in, and she refused to follow orders. While she “[doesn’t] blame the border patrol agent,” the incident shines a light on the lack of transparency.
Ultimately, the conditions at these border town continue to be nothing short of dire, and Carter will share what she saw in an upcoming series of articles for TheBlaze.com.
“You have this entire area, which [is] almost like a prison in the United States: Families living in shacks, illegal immigrants working in U.S. owned factories, living like prisoners, and drug cartel members controlling these people and using them,” Carter said. “And everyone knows it, and no one does anything. These children are being raped. These men and women are kept as slaves.”